The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


In the Grip

My family and my brother’s family occupy space and time differently than we did before Battens disease gripped us.

We flow from tears to the mundane and back, over and over again. Stephen King could not have imagined a more horrible disease, one that ravages children’s bodies and minds for years before killing them in their teens.

“I’m grieving Catie’s death already,” my sister-in-law, Cathy, said while she took the boiled potatoes out of the pot last Christmas. She sobs. I hug her. She wipes her eyes with her red and green checkered apron.

The disease has blinded and slowed her oldest daughter, Catie. And her youngest daughter, beautiful Annie, was diagnosed with the monster three months ago.

“Do you think we should mash the potatoes by hand or with the electric mixer?” she asks. “Which is the best way?”

I dance with Catie after dinner. I twirl her and she’s smiling and it’s so, so bittersweet. I sneak to a dark corner to hide my tears. When I return, Catie is yelling at my 9-year old son, convinced that he’s stolen her favorite purple purse.

She’s shoving Nick. He stands glued to the carpet, clueless how to respond.

I take his hand and lead him to the backyard, away from Catie. My hero, my loving sister-in-law, is at Nick’s side, explaining that Catie has tantrums and yells at her sisters all the time. That he should not take it personal.

Cathy and I return to the living room, start picking up the piles of discarded wrapping paper. We flow from laughter to tears and from denial to horror. From raw pain to numbness.

We never reach acceptance.

By Marianne Lonsdale


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Saturday, September 29, 2007



My daughter turns 2 tomorrow and I am alternately amazed at how fast and yet how slow our time together thus far has seemed.

Fast because ever since she was born, my life seems to flash by at the speed of light – wake up, get kid, dress kid, walk dog, feed kid, feed dog, work, shop, get kid, feed kid, bathe kid, read story, read another story, read the last story, put on nightlight, give hug, give kiss, get glass of water, make sure all stuffed animals are present, hug, kiss, say goodnight, repeat.

Slow because reading The Very Busy Spider three times in a row really makes it seem like a very looong story. Fast because I am always running after someone who I’ve only managed to get one shoe on. Slow because getting the second shoe on takes forever because she insists that “I do myself!” Fast because I can go an entire day now without even noticing that I haven’t yet taken a shower (I work from home, so that’s not as bad as it sounds.)

Slow because you spend a LOT of time in the bathroom when you are helping your toddler use the potty. . .“Are you done now?” “No.” “All done now?” “No.” “How about now?”

Slow, too, because a walk around the block turns into an hour-long adventure where trees are hugged, flowers are picked, rocks are collected, and mommy finally stops to enjoy the beautiful fall day and see the world through her daughter’s eyes – a world where ants are amazing and extra big fallen leaves are a huge find.

And, too, too fast because I want to hang on to every slobbery kiss and sticky hug before she doesn’t want to give them anymore, because I know I’ll never remember all the funny things she says, because someday, much sooner than I ever could have realized, I will long for the days when I had to read The Very Busy Spider three times in a row.

By Shannon Matus-Takaoka


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Friday, September 28, 2007



I am a recovering parent volunteer.

I held the position of room mom for grades Pre-K through fourth, organizing class parties and drivers for field trips.

I drove to destinations like the zoo, the fire department, the recycling center, and the pumpkin patch.

I served as the secretary, vice-president, and president of the home and school club of my children’s elementary school.

I sat on the Enrichment Committee, the Fundraising Committee, the Auction Committee, the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon Committee, and the Literature Committee.

I baked dozens of bare sugar cookies for decorating in the shape of shamrocks in March, butterflies in May, pumpkins in November, and snowmen in December.

I cruised craft stores for chenille stems (a.k.a. pipe cleaners), poster paint, sequins, florist wire, starch, pom-poms, and giggly eyes for craft projects. These projects included, but are not limited to, baby food jar snow globes, cheese cloth ghosts, macaroni necklaces, and rolled bees wax candles. I cut leaves, insect wings, petals, apples, stars and hearts out of construction paper, tissue paper, foam, and cardboard. I sorted, collated, corrected, hole-punched, stapled, folded, laced, and stuffed.

I dressed in the costume of a Greek village woman circa 1825 and taught my son’s fourth-grade class and my daughter’s first-grade class how to Greek circle dance. I dressed as a colonial settler (in a lavender, flannel nightgown, apron and mob cap) circa 1770 and instructed fifth graders how to make rope.

I coached Pee-Wee Soccer. I timed heats at swim meets. I decorated floats for the Little League parades. I worked in the school computer lab, art room, library, and lunch room. I sold gift wrap, daffodil bulbs, magazines, and See’s Candies to friends, neighbors, and family members.

I sold Rice Krispy treats, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and brownies at bake sales.

I have recently learned how to say, "NO."

By Tina Bournazos


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Thursday, September 27, 2007


Ultimate Fantasy

My ultimate fantasy features a hotel room. Let me clarify. In my fantasy, I am alone in said hotel room. I understand this isn’t the usual image conjured up when a hotel fantasy is mentioned, so let me fill out the details for you.

This is just your regular, clean hotel room. A fluffy white comforter, extra pillows and high thread count sheets is a plus, but not mandatory. Heavy drapes and a humming fan are a must to ensure uninterrupted sleep. Nearby rooms should be empty to avoid listening to someone else’s creaking mattress or late-night movie.

This hotel room, in case you haven’t figured this out by now, is for sleeping. In my fantasy, I wake up only to turn over and snuggle into the covers before drifting off again. There is no baby wanting milk, no screaming child or snoring husband. There is also no phone ringing, door knocking or distant gardener going wild with the leaf blower. If I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I might imagine taking a hot bubble bath, maybe even with candles and a good novel that I can read in one sitting between naps.

I suspect that I’m not the only mom who has entertained the thought of vanishing into the night. I refuse to believe that most mothers adapt well to the cruel torture of long-term sleep deprivation.

My oldest son was a terrible sleeper. He was colicky and up nursing every couple hours for months. When he did sleep, I couldn’t sleep for fear that he would wake up again. One night, I didn’t think I could make it. It was only 3 a.m. and it was obvious that baby had no intention of sleeping. My head throbbed and I was starting to hallucinate. I knew I couldn’t make it to dawn. I woke my husband with car keys in hand.

“I’m going to a hotel,” I said handing him the baby.

“You can’t do that,” he said. And I cried because I knew I couldn’t.

Now I have a second baby that doesn’t sleep well. With ear plugs, sound machines and more help from my husband, I can handle that part. However, lately my older son has regressed after sleeping through the night for years. Apparently the two boys are in a secret competition to see who can steal more of mommy’s sleep time.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve often fantasized about grabbing my car keys and heading to a hotel. At least I have an escape plan, even if it is a selfish one.

Last night was particularly bad. It was 5 a.m. and my longest sleep stretch had been one hour.

“I’m about five minutes away from going to a motel,” I told my husband.

“Sure,” he said. “Take the kids.”

By Maya Creedman


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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Mom and Her Monthly Warthog

Once a month, the warthog emerges. Like a werewolf in a full moon, she bursts, full-throttle, from the dark, sinister depths of her home office, hair uncombed, breasts throbbing, voice peeling the paint and the crayon doodles off the walls.

Run, children, run, for this creature shall force you to eat all three carrots on your plate! Run, children, run, for this creature shall make you put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the floor next to said laundry basket. Run!

The warthog has no patience and likes to nibble, slowly on naughty, defiant children. Foraging in the refrigerator and cabinets for something sweet or salty, she ROARS with frustration that only organic squeezie yogurts and Annie’s Ranch Bunnies are available for devouring.

“Who wants to go to 7-11?!!!” she trumpets at 6:30 p.m. so she can grab handfuls of contraband Raisinettes and Cheetoes for late night snacking with US Weekly, ignoring her husband’s raised eyebrow.

The warthog feels fat. And hairy. “Pants again today,” she mumbles to herself on a 90-degree day… the warthog has no tolerance for Gillette stubble or Nair wounds right now.

The warthog feels misunderstood. For she sobs about the kids, the state of her marriage, the job that she used to have, the job that she wants to have, the word “job,” and her bumbling and stumbling writing attempts. Her hooves feel all scratchy and dull and even a mani-pedi doesn’t make her feel better, well, at least for more than an hour or so.

Signs pop up in the front yard of her house – “Beware: Warthog on the Loose” and “Come Back in Five Days” – for any unsuspecting friends who might think of zipping over for an impromptu hello. The mailman throws the mail from the sidewalk. The paperboy, from the porch of the house five doors away. And as for the FedEx guy, that’s the last time he shows up with a package that didn’t come overnight like it was supposed to.

She had him for lunch. Grunt. Snarl.

But then the warthog begins to feel better. The curse slowly lifts and large rainbows appear and her children come out from behind the couch. “Oh, Mom, you should have seen her this time…” Ah, yes, who was that diabolical creature that inhabited her body for those five days? And what shall we do next month when the snaggletoothed warthog raises her hairy head yet again???

As her brave and loyal husband unzips from his camouflage jumpsuit and emerges, slowly, carefully, from his barricade from behind the ficus plant, he not so subtly says, “Next month, we’re taking you to the vet.”

By Annie Yearout


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Dear Children

Okay, so I have met a guy that I like. Now, I want to meet his eight-year old son, and I’d like him to meet my two children. I am very proud of my children, I love them very much. Of course, I want my acquaintances to know these two lovely creatures.

“Okay, so what’s the problem?” you may ask.

Well, there is no problem for me. Quite the contrary. It would make my day to meet another young person, especially someone so important to this guy.

I imagine that this guy would like to meet my children. It would make his day.

It’s the dear children that must be considered. They are the ones with one parent in one house and the other in a different one. They really don’t need a third person to triangulate. They simply are not equipped at their ages – three, eight and eleven – to grapple with the uncertainty of whether the new guy and I will stay together.

Introducing one another as “just a friend” is not an option because the eight- and eleven-year olds will sniff that lie out right away. Even if we have no physical contact, they will figure out they we are sleeping together.

“And so?” you may ask.

A conservative would jump right in here and yell about the extramarital sex thing, and he/she had a point forty years ago. But, times have changed. What’s the figure? You might know it. Let’s just say that the vast majority of Americans don’t have a problem with sex before marriage and sex after marriage.

I don’t understand how Dr. Laura expects divorced people to abstain from sex until their kids are eighteen years old and out of the house. Either she is patronizing her audience by failing to mention that level-headed people can take good care of their children and date without harming the children. Or, she is a cruel person that actually believes that a normal person can simply switch off his/her libido, and then switch it back on at a future date.

I fall squarely into the group that knows that it’s normal and natural to want intimacy before a marriage, in a marriage and after it.

That said, my kids do not need to know about my love life.

My having an intimate relationship with someone very much does matter to them. In their young minds, such an arrangement would mean that maybe the new guy and I as a couple, a little closer to the husband/wife ideal relationship, might/could/would become the new gravity point in their lives. Therefore, the relationship with the remaining parent shifts in some imperceptible but certain and disquieting way.

And they really don’t need to go there, not now, not until I am sure that the partnership between me and a new guy is serious, strong and lasting. Asking them to assimilate a new member to their family is a lot. It ought not be another exercise in hope and loss.

By Vicki Inglis


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Monday, September 24, 2007


Last September

“It smells like Mill Valley,” Nina said and I knew exactly what she meant: autumn leaves, trickling creek beds, redwood bark, and just a dash of distant fog. Like expert wine tasters, we could identify the precise scents that filled the early evening air in our hometown.

On her annual visit from New Zealand, my sister reserved three precious days to “hang” with me, my husband and my two-year old son. I had recently moved back to Mill Valley and now Nina was finally here to help me reclaim the town we grew up in.

We roamed the streets of our childhood, our voices like ping pongs bouncing back and forth. Each block brought more stories until our sides cramped from laughter, our skins tingling with memories of blackberry picking, tree houses and high school parties. Mill Valley was our town.

As the redwoods transformed into towering shadows, we walked down the middle of the streets, so close that our fingers touched. Even though it was dark, I could picture her short, stubborn fingers that could serenade piano concertos and her muscular legs that could kick ass on a soccer field as well as under a sundress.

While our memories spilled around us, we planned for her next visit. She promised to come back the next September. I was newly pregnant and Nina hoped this baby would share her May birthday. She’d cook us gourmet meals with farmer’s market produce, cuddle the baby, teach my son how to play soccer, and help me burn off my baby weight with hikes on Mt. Tam. Maybe she’d even move home for good.

A year is a long time, but I thought we had the rest of our lives. It never occurred to me that it would be the last time I’d share Mill Valley with my little sister. Nina died six months later - just six weeks before the baby was born on her birthday. She would have been thirty years old.

Now it is September again and she isn’t here to kiss the baby or tickle Kai. She isn’t here to help me remember the Mill Valley we shared.

On good days, I feel Nina with me. She urges me to pick the blackberries, plums and other underappreciated fruit on our street. She laughs when my son bounces off the furniture in his Superman costume – the one she gave him for Christmas. She smirks when I put milk in the cupboard and car keys in the fridge. And on warm September evenings, she walks silently beside me as we inhale the smell of Mill Valley together.

By Maya Creedman


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Sunday, September 23, 2007


Kindergarten Top Ten

My daughter’s been a kindergartner for nearly a month now. Phoebe’s had some rough moments along the way. For the most part, though, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well she’s adapting and by her enthusiasm for learning. And during these first few weeks of school, I’ve learned a thing or two myself:

1. After fretting about my little girl not being in the same class with any of her preschool buddies, it turns out the only one this was an issue for was me.

2. I don’t have to give up my procrastinating ways in order to get my daughter to school on time. I’ve fine-tuned a routine that lets me sleep until 7:15, feed Phoebe breakfast, help her get dressed, prepare her snack and lunch, and make the 15-minute drive to school before the first bell rings at 8:25.

3. Kindergartners spend their days doing “nothing.” Or at least that’s the response I get every time I ask Phoebe what she did in school.

4. Phoebe can be “best friends” with a boy.

5. I have the distinction of being the mother of the only girl in my daughter’s class who gets time outs. “But there are lots of boys who get time outs,” she assured me after I made this discovery.

6. The most exciting attraction on the playground is the storm drain. According to Phoebe, she and her “best friend” Tomas spend recess time dropping sticks and rocks into its stagnant water.

7. In the eyes of my daughter nothing is scarier -- or makes her fall in line faster -- than the sight of the principal wearing red lipstick. It’s not a good color for me, but I’m thinking of investing in a tube myself if it will yield similar results at home.

8. There is a “bully” in Phoebe’s class who doesn’t believe in her magical powers.

9. The money we no longer spend on preschool tuition will not be beefing up our savings as my husband and I envisioned. It will be going toward new playground equipment, KIDDO, various school fundraisers, and extra-curricular activities.

10. Kindergarten teachers deserve medals of honor. How Phoebe’s teacher manages to stay calm, kind and focused while teaching and managing twenty five-year-olds (especially ones like mine) boggles my mind.

By Dorothy O’Donnell


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Saturday, September 22, 2007



My eight-year old is clearly overwhelmed.

I sit in front of the computer listening to, and striving to maintain, some level of empathy for my daughter’s crying jag. But I realize that it’s the byproduct of a life-long collision course in self-discipline.

She lies on her bed at once pouting and sobbing. “I’d rather spend the whole day in bed than do this project!”And how best do you respond to a third grader who bemoans the fact that she can’t spend her Sunday afternoon shopping with Dad because her first real research project is due in two days? You talk to her. You show her how. You convince her to take the reigns of her own self and break the task into smaller pieces. I

t’s fun! I used to LOVE homework! But the yelling and lecture fail. She’s still in uncontrollable tears. I dig for the empathy. (Dig, dig, dig…)I come from the ethic that you must be responsible and finish your work. Do it the right way, before having fun. And it wasn’t until the freedom of college that I had any sense of option about the matter. It is in this practical mode that I commit the heinous act of erasing a sentence at the end of her report so that she could write more and be factually correct.

She now comes completely unglued. I have to take a step back and be human, not Mom. Not a scholar. Do you remember third grade? After my family moved to Washington D.C., in the sixth grade, I clearly remember being overburdened by school.

Arkansas elementary schools hadn’t even required a research project, but once I enrolled in a prep school, there were moments I went crazy from the pressure. The amount of work we’d cram into three to four hours every night seemed relentless. The top mark, grade A, was rare to come by. B+s were more common.

Mother helped me study until she gave it up for her own labors in law school. And I seemed to get the hang of things better once I became more familiar with the study process in general and less naïve about the teacher’s expectations.

I do remember Mom’s sense of empathy and compassion one night. She said, “Lauren, I don’t know how you’re going to get through all this!” Followed by, “You can do it. I know you can.”

We had the first quarter of medieval history laid out on the dining room table and an exam the next day. It seems, in retrospect, as if she were saying the same doubt/little cheer to herself, the young, self-conscious wife of a newly-elected official.

My daughter, Lilia, and I popped some popcorn and eventually revisited the table where the project lay in all its vexatious glory. We came up with a plan for the next step and I apologized profusely for erasing her sentence. Then I said, “You can do it. I know you can.”

By Lauren Cargill


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Friday, September 21, 2007


Dance at the Gym

I hadn’t been in a dance studio since I left New York almost twenty years ago, when I was about to turn thirty years old and finally admitted to myself I would never make it as a professional.

This was after a nearly a decade of legal proofreading on the night shift to support myself -- sometimes full-time and sometimes as a temp when it became too depressing to admit I was a full-time proofreader on the night shift. Not that anything’s wrong with that, but it wasn’t what I moved to Manhattan to do.

But lately my left shoulder has been bothering me, due, I’m sure, to the fast exit my two children and I made at Target last Friday night. We often land at Target when my husband is away on business and I’m losing my mind: We wander the aisles like disoriented space travelers, Olivia and Mateo studying Michael Graves ice-cream scoops as if they’re tools from an exotic people, then the three of us shuffling into the gardening section to study that tribe’s artifacts.

On Friday, Olivia wanted a salsa CD, Mateo wanted new fire engine sneakers, and they each insisted on a bag of popcorn. But for the first time, perhaps in history, the popcorn machine at Target was down. And no hot pretzel was going to substitute.

It was the scooping up of both of them, a combined seventy pounds, which ruined my left shoulder: that, and the kicking and writhing that ensued.

Driving home down 101, the two of them screaming in the back seat of the minivan, my shoulder throbbing, I noticed a hand-lettered sign posted outside a gym: $39 per month, no sign-up fee. I had never belonged to a gym; I never felt the need. But when I was young, I danced five days a week, and when I got older, my husband and I swam a mile twice a week before work and rode our bikes six hours a day on Saturday and Sunday. The only exercise I get now is folding laundry, paying bills, picking up sippy cups, and wrangling two preschoolers. As I gripped the steering wheel with one hand and massaged my torn shoulder ligament with the other, I made a decision. By Saturday afternoon, the plastic gym membership card was hooked to my key ring; the class schedule paper-clipped to the master calendar in our kitchen.

On Tuesday, I walked into the Dance Fitness class, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I almost turned around and walked out. But the hardwood floor felt the same under my feet as I remembered, and the students were all dressed in black jazz pants and tank tops, with their hair tied back, just the way they used to be.

And although my movements felt like only a suggestion of what I knew they were supposed to be, what I knew they once were, for that one hour I was dancing, and it was one hour of pure, ecstatic joy.

By Jessica O’Dwyer


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Thursday, September 20, 2007



Hi. You might remember me. I used to blog here. Then, about a month ago, my daughter, Emi, started preschool.

Mistakenly, my instinct was to send her off for her first day in something cute, like this, when instead, what she really needed was this.

Eight doctor visits, several colds, one stomach flu and four prescriptions for a particularly nasty and antibiotic-resistant ear infection later, I must say that I have been both awed and alarmed by the germ-generating potential of the two- to five-year old set. Both she and I were looking forward to preschool, so these developments left us a little bit unnerved, to say the least. I envisioned her bringing home finger paintings and macaroni collages, instead she brought home viruses. I thought I’d be more efficient than ever as a result of the extra child-care coverage, instead I missed days of work and conducted countless conference calls during Sesame Street.

On the day I totally lost it, my feverish child and I had just returned home from another trip to the pediatric office, where the doctor on call told me to “get used to it,” and that some moms he knows have just ended up quitting their jobs rather than deal with their kids getting sick all the time in a group-care environment.

In my exhausted, sleep deprived state; what I heard was “It’s your fault that your kid is sick because you a) work and b) send her to a germ-infested preschool.” Because really, isn’t it absurd that a mother might need to earn money that helps pay the mortgage, or that she might think her child would enjoy playing with other kids, or, God forbid, that she might simply want a few hours a couple of times a week where she can shower alone and finish a cup of coffee before it goes cold?

Perhaps he didn’t really mean it quite that way, but I find it hard to believe that this same doctor would have told my husband a similar story about all the dads he meets who leave their jobs because their kids come down with too many colds. Thinking about this at least made me snap out of feeling sorry for myself and — if only out of sheer annoyance at his pessimistic attitude — vow to not let this germ thing break us.

Yes, being up all night, missing work and experiencing my daughter’s first projectile vomit was stressful, but we all did manage to get through without me having to quit my job, or her becoming a three-year-old preschool dropout.

Life continues on, I’m back to working during daylight hours and Emi has returned to school without a biohazard suit. She hasn’t sneezed, coughed, thrown up or broken out in hives in approximately two weeks. And though I’m sure there will inevitably be more colds, sore throats and conjunctivitis to come, in the meantime she’s made some new friends, learned about ladybugs and brought me home a brilliant multi-colored macaroni collage.

By Shannon Matus-Takaoka


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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


My Little Artists

It is not that I don’t want my children to be creative; I just get so frustrated because rather than being happy when they are inspired I can’t help but think that they are simply wasting my office supplies.

I always considered myself pretty creative and I married an artist so I expected our kids to be creative. My stepdaughter is a true artist from creative writing to being able to design and sew costumes by hand. My older son, Paul, has been drawing since he could grasp a crayon and I have the marks on the walls to prove it.

So now watching my five-year-old son, Eric, create more mess than anything else it is hard not to wince. I love watching him when he is absorbed in anything that does not require my help. The problem is I can’t just watch. It is not enough to micromanage how he plays from rationing his glue to reorganizing his markers for him. I want to push him aside and do it for him.

I have come to see that there is a fine line between my kids’ art and recycling, and it is often a tough call. I try to give every project a certain amount of positive feedback even if all I can praise is their effort and intent. It is easier to forgive a certain amount of hardening glue when the artist is beaming with pride. But mostly, I either have to leave the room or sit on my hands to keep from taking over. I try to wait until they are at school to weed out the projects heading for the recycling. Once Eric saw me do this and that Tuesday when the recycling truck lumbered away he piped up: “There go your drawings Paul!”

Now when I come home to find lots of unidentifiable drawings decorating the walls. I announce, “How beautiful!”

What I think to myself is: “Wow that’s a lot of tape.”

By Cathy Burke


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Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Stealing Chores

My husband has been hiding something from me.

While watering the garden, I watch the sun graze the top tier of my garden with its early morning rays. The fog is retreating to the bay, turning the sky blue in its wake. This is the kind of morning when almost anything seems possible.

Inside the house, several loads of baby laundry and sticky handprints are waiting. Desperately, I look around for a reason to stay here for just a few more minutes. There is nothing left to water. In fact, if I don’t stop watering the flowers will drown.

As I drag the hose back across the lawn, I notice that the grass is too long. Apparently, James, too busy chopping and hauling braches off innocent bushes to fill the “green” bin, forgot to mow the lawn.

Hmm…maybe I should mow the grass!

I’m not exactly sure what the lawnmower even looks like, but I finally find the heavy push mower in the back corner of the garage. Dragging it out of the garage is a chore and I’m thinking that this is another one of my not-so-great ideas that end up complicating my life.

Once I get the mower to the grass, I have to figure out how to use the thing. The grass is too long for me to cut without major effort. I’m about to give up when I discover that I can pull the mower backwards. Soon I’m thinking that the sounds of the blades whirling and sputtering out grass clippings are almost as sweet as Colby’s baby coos. And better yet, I’m accomplishing something concrete! Even though I can feel the sweat dripping down my back, I’m proud that my baby-hauling muscles are capable of doing a “man’s job.”

And, it’s fun!

Suddenly, my husband appears on the lawn with the kids in tow. The baby’s wearing orange pants, a blue and red striped shirt and green monkey socks. Our three-year-old is wearing fleece pants (on backwards) and a tank top with a giant orange macaw on it.

”Hey,” he says, looking worried, “that’s my job.”

“I’ll trade you for something else,” I say.

Well, except for dressing the kids.

By Maya Creedman


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Monday, September 17, 2007


One of Those Days

The babysitter is 30 minutes late. At 4:30 p.m., stuck in the house with a hyperactive preschooler and an over-tired thee-month old, it feels like an eternity.

I’m desperate for a few minutes for myself.

My shoulders are aching from bouncing the baby. Kai, my three-year old, has piled pillows in the middle of the living room to make a “Superman house.” Why is it that Superman can cover the living room floor with toys in seconds, but can’t reverse this action?

Finally, the babysitter arrives and I can’t find my car keys. After three laps around the house, two frantic digs through the diaper bag and a search through the recycling bin, I find them hanging on the nail by the door where they belong. The babysitter stares at me with an expression somewhere between fear and pity.

As I slip on my flip-flops, Kai decides that he doesn’t want me to leave. “Because I really, really love you!” he says. I bribe him with a Popsicle even though he’s already had two today.

Just eight minutes from my double soy latte, the traffic stops. I watch the signal light ahead turn green and then red and then green again. My cell phone is in my purse in the trunk. No chance to catch up with friends. I click on the radio. Maybe I can improve my mind and listen to something other than the “Star Wars” theme song. National Public Radio is in the midst of a fund drive. I don’t recognize any of the music playing on the other stations.


At Starbucks, my favorite table is taken, the barista forgets my drink order and the “Summer of Love” music track is beyond irritating. By the time I snap the lid on my latte and realize I forgot my pen and notebook, it has been an hour since the babysitter arrived.

But, I’m alone.

I have an hour to myself before bath and bedtimes begin. I take a couple of yoga breaths (the kind I forget to do when I’m with the kids) and find a seat by the window. I dig into the sandy crevices of my purse and find a green crayon and the empty backside of Kai’s preschool snack schedule.

It’ll do.

By Maya Creedman Ho


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Sunday, September 16, 2007


Motherhood at Fifty

Being a 56-year old mom has its pluses and minuses. On the positive side, I’ve already had a career and built up a 401k. I’ve gotten to travel and spend time running, skiing and bicycling. I’ve had wonderful, close friendships; seen lots of movies; and read many great books. And I’ve gained perspective, which helps me to know what’s important or not.

So what’s the downside? To begin with, there’s the age disparity with those mothers who are 20-30 years younger than me. When I visit my dad at his assisted-living residence, I wonder if the younger moms see me in the same way that I see the older folks there.

There’s also the energy level. While I pride myself on being youthful and energetic (for my age), the fact is that I’ve slowed way down. When my daughter has a playdate, I feel exhausted at the end of two hours. (Is this true for you younger moms?)

Then there’s the patience part. Is it due to menopause/insomnia that I easily become irritable or is it just another character flaw?

Finally, there’s that fifty-year age gap between my daughter and me. I worry about her during her adult years. I’d like to live to 90, providing I’m healthy in body and mind, so that I’ll be there until she’s 40. I’m hoping she takes a more direct route to adulthood, marriage and parenthood so that I can enjoy the family she creates.

But don’t feel sorry for me. My daughter keeps me young, forces me to grow emotionally and mentally, and makes me laugh often at her kooky antics. I don’t lack for creativity because everyday I witness her vivid imagination and get to partake in art and music projects. One day I stayed at school to help build a nature habitat for her classroom. I should have gone home and done my own work, but I was having too much fun.

Would I recommend motherhood at 50? Helping a child to develop and grow up is one of life’s blessings. If you’ve missed it so far, it’s a great opportunity. Why not partake of it? That’s what I did and I wouldn’t change anything. (Except maybe some days…)

By Nina Katz


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Saturday, September 15, 2007


One Left Shoe

Driving down the highway has adopted a different meaning to me since the birth of my youngest son.

I spent way more time in the car then I had in the past, and not the productive thought-provoking kind of time, but the brain-numbing post birth kind of time.

The driving had to be smooth, unbroken, preferably at highway speeds and at least 30 minutes in length. It took some time for me to discover the exits and on-ramps without stop signs to slow my rhythmic jaunt, but after I found the perfect north and south turnarounds, I could fly down the highway, gleeful to have found an uninterrupted motion that would sooth my colicky baby to sleep.

We would have to go north as far as Terra Linda and then loop back south as far as Rodeo. This distance would ensure that the ride would be at least 30 minutes of near-constant motion; the necessary time to lull the baby and allow him to be asleep long enough to enter REM so that I could successfully transfer him to the crib when we pulled back into the garage providing the clicks and clunks of the garage door closing wouldn’t disturb that well-earned sleep.

It was when I was trapped in the car during these daily jaunts that my mind was clear -- okay, blank -- and I was unable to be consumed by the litany of tasks of motherhood so my observation was keen. I realized that this time lulling my baby to sleep pacified me enough to tune out the overwhelming vastness of parenthood and notice other details of highway driving.

It was only three days into these naptime journeys that I observed the single small, beat up tennis shoe (possibly toddler size 10) stranded in a ditch by the side of the road. I couldn’t get beyond mentally trying to figure out the story behind this one left shoe.

Was a mom finally fed up with her child insisting on pink everything and tossed the shoes out the window at 60 m.p.h, the mate forever lost in the bushes on the other side of the highway fence? Did the family have to make an emergency bathroom break by the side of the highway and in the haste of continuing the trek to Disneyland, junior lost one shoe? Did the child himself launch the shoe from the car in celebration after working for weeks to remove it while strapped in his car seat only to cry endlessly about it on the way to grandma’s house?

I couldn’t find a scenario that made sense to me. Even if the shoes were left on the roof of the car in a frenzy to get everyone dressed and out of the house, why only one? Where was the other shoe? The next day I searched with tired eyes every inch of that same route, to still find only one shoe between two exits with nothing but highway in between.

It defied physics.

And now that I am aware of the phenomenon, it isn’t only on my short stretch of highway, but I notice these un-mated shoes on highways everywhere.

There is something tragic about the one left shoe by the side of the road. It reeks of abandonment. Someone needs that shoe; a child needs that shoe. Someone needs to care about that shoe, about that child.

Someone who knows where to find the right one.

By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy


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Friday, September 14, 2007



I remember gasping when I realized my boobs were resting on my pregnant belly. If I riveted my shoulder blades back, my boobs rose like Aunty Lyn’s soufflé – magnificent for a nanosecond then half-mast from then on. My boobs must have gotten used to all that lolling about, or maybe they are still looking south for the belly they got to love so well. In any case, my silhouette is no longer what it was, and the camera knows it.

Every photo of me since 2003 seems to be a bottom-up or side view of slouchy me – changing a diaper, pushing a stroller, or worse still – in the bathtub with Savannah as she lay blissfully suspended from her chin. These were not moments where the extra D’s of childrearing added symmetry or grace. The bathtub photo, I told Kent as he was taking it, was “bad naked.” He actually said, “But they can do something about those, right?” - simultaneously reeling it in as he tossed it out. He caught nothing that night.

It is hard to believe that I was a strong contender for the ‘Raisins on Toast Award’ in my college days - even harder to believe that Kent stared at my breasts in reverent awe the entire second half of our first date. But I was, and he did.

Gladly, all is not lost. First, there is the concept of a 'bra fitting' - a recent discovery after not-so-gentle-or-kind prodding from my adorably blunt sister. And then there is the even more foreign concept of weight loss (one day!), and posture, posture, posture. Finally, for others, there is the lofty goal of acceptance (never! I know I can will those babies to attention!)

Today, though I still berate poor Kent over his obvious lack of photographic skills. I can say that the in-your-face moo-factor is gone. My friend once told me to put a pencil under a breast, stand up straight enough for it to drop out and that is where my shoulders should reside as I travel my boobs around the place. Finally, after four years, the pencil drops out. No, I can't maintain that with Savannah and the clutter of the day's anticipated needs in hand - but there are moments (mostly at dusk, when the sun isn’t so harsh, and my hair is wet and without frizz, the bulb is almost gone and the shower has left a mist of steam in the bathroom) that my reflection tells me, "You've still got it.”

Now I just have to convince Kent to capture that on film before I'm the one wearing diapers, again.

Robyn Murphy


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Thursday, September 13, 2007


Dorm Life

Recently I drove my daughter back to college for her sophomore year instead of putting her on a plane. I wanted to meet her friends, see her room, load her up with a year’s supply of detergent. If I could visualize where she’d be for the next year, I knew we’d both be OK.

We’d splurged on an expensive detour to a historic lodge enroute, so I planned to spend a night in her dorm before tackling the 12-hour drive back home. That way I could save money on a hotel and maximize our time together. Besides, I had loved dorm life when I was in college a hundred years ago, and could imagine nothing more fun than dropping in on it again.

What a mistake.

After a certain age, no one should spend a night in a college dormitory unless it’s as a participant in Elder Hostel. After insisting that my daughter hang out with her friends instead of me, I holed up in her single room counting the hours 'till my getaway. Luckily, very few college students go to bed at 10:00 and wake up at 6:00, so I was able to sneak into the bathroom undetected. Never have I felt so invisible and out of place. I couldn’t wait to jump in the car the next morning and head home where I belonged.

Now I knew exactly how my daughter felt when I dropped her off the year before.

By Lorrie Goldin


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Six Years Ago

Six years ago, hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia, and into a quiet field in rural Pennsylvania.

I was in Washington state, pregnant with my daughter, and my son wasn’t even a year old. I remember crying throughout the day and listening to NPR round the clock, wide awake through the dark and long hours of the night.

I couldn’t stop thinking about those voices in the rubble, silenced to a concrete and fiery death. I couldn’t stop thinking about the victim’s families: how they were thinking about the violent deaths of their loved ones, how they dared to hope for rescue, and how they all had to consider what the years ahead had to hold for them without that loved one.

I remember feeling sad and angry and scared for these people; I remember feeling that way for myself.

For the hours and days and weeks following the attack, my mind went to escape routes, shelters, to visions of myself protecting my children at all cost. What if I had to hole up in my house while foreign troops circled the perimeter? What if I had to flee to the hills with a blanket and a can of beans? How would we survive? On grass and berries and rabbits I’d snap in two with my bare hands? How would I even cook them?

I envisioned getting a hold of a gun, and played over scenes of violence and fury and desperation, where I went to my death protecting my children. Sometimes I was a lone sniper, picking off attackers; at others, I was stealth with a knife or a club. But none of these were safe or real options. I knew that.

I knew if I were being attacked, if my home was being invaded, my chances would be slim. I wondered if mothers in war-torn countries kept a small vial of poison to dab under the tongues of their children, and then their own, to avoid the prospect of torture. My mind went to that horror.

I don’t want to write these things, because to write that I’ve thought them is to wonder if I’d do them. 9/11 calls into question my sanity, my sense of safety, my strength, and even the darkness of my own beating heart.

By Anjie Reynolds


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Wanted: Playmate for My Husband

Wanted: Married weary female mother of three seeks playmate for my late-30s-year old husband. Must be fun loving, not tired all the time, peppy, happy, consistently cheery, and able to have dinner ready at the end of the day.

Must not be blond, under 26 y/old, or a former capital “P” Playmate. Absolutely no “secretaries” or “assistants” or “flight attendants” need apply.

Must like late, weekday nights out at Bimbos, the Warfield and the Fillmore. Must know what the Boom-Boom Room is and how to get there. Must dig all kinds of music, have a working knowledge of the ‘80s greatest hits, and be able to karaoke Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” in its entirety with a pool cue. Any air-guitar experience a bonus!

Must, must be able to stay out until 2 a.m. on a Wednesday and wake up by 7 a.m. on a Thursday to help with the kids. No hangovers allowed.

Sports knowledge necessary – a good candidate will have memorized roster and ERAs of NY Yankees and SF Giants, field positions of Raiders and Patriots, and like to watch and discuss them for hours while scratching your inner thigh. Must like beer, too, and have extensive tailgating experience. TiVo skills are key, but manhandling the remote is not preferred.

Should adore picking up his extra socks, boxers and newspapers from the bathroom floor. Should abhor long, sentimental conversations and be okay with closing the refrigerator door.

Should not be a wife. Should not have children. Should be completely unencumbered by anything more demanding than a fern or a wart. Someone living in hotel rooms and out of honor an bar is an attractive candidate, especially if there is free HBO or Toblerone involved.

Should have the energy of a person on a Starbucks Triple Espresso w/ a Red Bull chaser. Should know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.

No “skinny jeaned” or “halter toped” persons need apply. Rather, pimply, saggy, wrinkly people preferred.

If you are this person, please call immediately -- concert tonight at 10 p.m.

By Annie B. Yearout


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Monday, September 10, 2007



Sometimes, I feel like The Great Gastby who threw lavish parties and everyone came, but at his funeral very few people attended. Recently ,I threw an “End of the Summer Party,” which was a big success. I had been to enough three-year old birthday parties where every conversation was interrupted by a crying child, a spilled drink, a demand for cake. I decided it would be nice to get together with friends without the children and see people with whom I had been meaning to make plans all summer.

Everyone is so busy in the summer time with vacations and activities, and I’m no exception, especially since I have a new baby at home. This summer madness made me feel empty without connections. When I’d pick up the phone to call a friend, I worried that I might be bothering her and would often concoct reasons why not to call: it was dinner time, bath time, nap time. You name it, people where always too busy.

With Caller ID and the ability to see who is calling at all times, there is even less incentive to answer the phone if it’s not really important. I find that when I’m busy, which is much of the time, unless it’s a call I’m expecting, I often ignore it with the thought that I’ll call back later, when I have the time.

But what I miss then are those conversations that stop the madness and slow down the rolling momentum of day-to-day life. These unfortunately ignored opportunities don’t demand or inform anything, but provide those much needed exchanges that sound like “how are you?” and “just thought I’d call to say I’m thinking of you.”

Ironically, e-mail contributes to these feelings of isolation. While it’s easy to get in touch with just about anyone at any time, e-mail messages are rarely deep or heartfelt. They are quick, often cryptic exchanges. It’s much easier to send an e-mail than to actually visit someone in person or write a letter, both of which take time and effort.

In short, I felt a need to reach out, to create a community. Like Gatsby, I threw a party. People were thrilled to come and seemed to have a great time. I received a number of, get this, actual hand-written letters thanking me. It seems that I wasn’t the only one who needed a good gathering. I had created a community, forced it into being.

The week before my party, I caught a terrible flu bug. Of course my husband was out of town on business leaving me with our newborn and three-year old daughter. I felt so sick I could barely get out of bed. Luckily, I wasn’t on my death bed like Gatsby, but it certainly felt like it. In just a few days, forty people were coming to my house for a party, but I couldn’t think of one person to call to help me when I was so sick.

I desperately wished my mother lived closer and that my large family in general wasn’t so spread out, all living in different states. And herein lays another common source of isolation: families rarely stay together anymore. Whatever happened to families living in close proximity to each other, sharing common values, memories, and rituals? Instead, we are all so independent and autonomous, creating our own separate lives, often marrying into different cultures and religions. Every time I got up to nurse my baby with my 102 degree fever, I was reminded of my separateness.

Fortunately, I was able to find a sitter to watch my children the next day so that I could get some much needed rest. When she agreed to come, I almost cried with relief. And as I wrote her the check at the end of the day, it felt odd: I had to pay for my caring community. In some ways, I feel more gratitude toward my nanny than just about anyone, but I know it simply shouldn’t be that way. In this instance, I’m not alone. Many mothers, if they are able, pay for the help they need, creating a kind of artificial community.

The evening of my party, I told my friend Eliza about this flu incident and how lucky I felt to get a sitter. She responded, “You know you could have called me. That’s what friends do.” But I didn’t think of it at the time. Cleary, my isolation is somewhat self inflicted, as well. I was always so critical of Gatsby’s shallow friends, but perhaps Gatsby did not expect enough of people or humble himself enough to show his vulnerability. Parties are fun and I’ll keep throwing them, but I need to be creative and honest in my quest to create an authentic community.

I’ve heard my husband say to our toddler, “You know, some day you could live in the house right next door. That way we could come visit you any time.” She always agrees that this would be a good idea. He jokes this way. We both laugh. But I know that he, whose family lives on the opposite coast in Miami, is also trying to maintain an authentic community. I think of the expression on my parents’ faces the day my soon-to-be- husband and I loaded up a U-Haul with all my belongings to drive across the country to our new home in San Francisco. At the time, I just wished they could be happy for me.

Now I understand.

By Rebecca Elegant


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Sunday, September 09, 2007



My son was two-years and nine months old, but we were still waking up every two hours.

It was time to take control of my life. Or at least my nights. For a month, I acted out a no-night-nursing scenario with Mama and Baby kangaroo stuffed animals.

“And then the Mama kangaroo said, ‘'No nursey at night.' Baby kangaroo cried. Mama held him tight.”

But when my son continued to wake me up nearly every hour wanting to nurse, I decided it was time to stop playing with kangaroos and take action. I wore a sundress to bed. That way my son couldn’t lift up my shirt. He whimpered, asked for “nursey,” and I held him in my arms. I offered water, watered-down juice, milk. But he wanted books. We read 53 of them from 1:00 to 4:30 in the morning in the downstairs family room.

I’m now 20 days into this no-nursing, sundress-to-bed routine, and last night -- for the first time in two years and nine months -- he SLEPT from 10 at night until 5 in the morning.

Unfortunately, now that my son's so well-rested -- he’s given up his nap.

By Ariana Amini


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Saturday, September 08, 2007


Tools of the Trade

I was in a mood.

It was Saturday evening and all I wanted to do was finish this book I was reading and maybe do some writing. Take-out for dinner. That had been my plan. But of course by dinnertime the family decided they wanted this curry they claim I make so well.

“Please mom, it's so good when you make it!”

So what else could I do but chain myself to the stove once again?

“Cooking” is in my unwritten “mommy” job description, direct from that Human Resources Department from hell, where at times it seems like I have made some sort of Faustian bargain.

But I did not go down without a fight. I am after all my mother’s daughter. From her I have learned to play this role so well: the passive-aggressive martyr.

I sigh. I mention it is my weekend, too.

In the middle of slicing and dicing onions and tomatoes, I mutter, “how do you expect me to work with knives like these? I hate these knives, they’re awful.”

“If you need new knives, just buy new knives,” says my husband patiently.

But that’s not the point, I fume. Why should I get them? After all, isn’t it the employer who is supposed to make sure the employee has all the right tools for the “job."

Why should I interrupt my day to go buy knives? I am always the one doing the sacrificing I commiserate with myself.

Anyway, so nice husband that he is, shortly after I have a brand new knife set, gleaming razor-sharp, very snazzy.

Now one of those darned knives has sliced my hand. Not seriously, it’s a paper-thin cut but bad and bloody enough for my kid to dryly comment, “that’s one bad owie, Mom.”

And it hurts like hell.


By Tania Malik


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Friday, September 07, 2007



When did it become common practice for parents to take turns buying junk food to give kids after playing a sport?

My son has played sports for about three years and I’m still wide-eyed when a mom pulls out cupcakes with frosting towers as soon as the last inning ends.

I’m appalled and feel powerless to change this tradition.

“The snacks are so important,” some perky mom says at the start of each season. “That’s why the kids play, what they look forward to.”

What about health? What about the pleasure of playing? What about the child-obesity crisis?

My concern escalated last spring when my son got snacks not just after baseball games, but also after practice.

Practice ended at 6 p.m. Did he really need a bag of chips and a sugary drink as an appetizer before dinner?

I forbid him to partake which made me the mean mom. I try to come up with something healthy when it’s my turn. Something healthy, yet tasty enough that my son won’t be embarrassed.

For my last attempt, I stuffed baggies with a cheese stick and a handful of wheat thins. Another mom, whose turn it was not, brought doughnuts. Just in case whoever had snacks forgot -- she didn’t want the kids to suffer.

Guess which snack the kids chose?

By Marianne Lonsdale


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Thursday, September 06, 2007



I imagine Mike, the tall, lean, handsome, bald, black plumber for the city. He unbuttons my shirt slowly. I stroke his arms symmetrically, pressing my thumbs firmly into his taut humped biceps, and breathe onto his neck without touching it.

When once my fantasies brought me shame, as if someone were watching me, now I fuss over them as I would a fine entrée served at a plush restaurant.

I take Mike’s tee-shirt off. I press my cheek to his chest, then the other cheek. I press my palms against his lean back. Etc.

I wake up in the morning after my night with Mike. The kids are still asleep. I tiptoe upstairs and set the water to boil for tea. After bundling the kids off to their respective schools, I drive to Lake Merced for my almost daily exercise.

There is Mike. It’s just Mike. The hero of my fantasy is no more than another ambulating homo sapien.

“Hello,” I say.

“Good morning, Vicki.”

“Long run today or a short one?”I ask.

“Short today, rest tomorrow, long on Wednesday.”

“Got it.”

I don’t get it. I don’t hope or even wish to keep track of his exercise schedule, except to maximize the chances of running into him again.

But, for what? For something that would end in a one-night stand, an affair that could deflate as fast as it inflated? Or worse, some futile attempt to find common ground between us when there isn’t any?

A week later, I am driving my daughter to the Lake, as she has the day off. I spot Mike.

“Darling,” I say to my daughter, “there’s someone I want you to meet,” I lead her over to the hunk. “Hi, Mike. I’d like you to meet my daughter.”

“Hi,” he says.


“She looks just like you,” he comments to me.

I say something oh-golly-gee-ish.

Later I comment to my daughter, “I think he’s cute. “

She looks straight at me. “I don’t think he’s interested.”

Of course, he’s not interested. Neither was Paul, Peter, Luis, Greg, Rob, Vijendra or Martin. I am a densely tangled mass of concerns and thoughts. I don’t blame them for saying sayonara.

So, what is it that I can hope for? I know that in the future I may and probably will have figured out the biggest chunks of my life – they are, how to be solvent, how to not dread my ex-husband, and how to love my children and extended family as fully as possible.

By Vicki Inglis


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Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Four Friends

I just returned from my 30th high school class reunion in San Diego. The best part of the weekend was laughing with three of my closest friends from that time. We laughed till our guts ached and tears streamed down our faces. We chortled over silly things that only we would find funny. And we laughed about things that would have made our parents shudder if they’d known about them.

Like the time we headed to Tijuana for a night of disco hopping and,in a pot-induced stupor, piled into a windowless “serial killer” van driven by a pair of strange Mexican men. Promising to take us to a hot party, they instead took us on a harrowing two-hour ride through the city’s back streets. Slowly, it sunk into our foggy brains that there was no party and we had no idea where we were or who we were with. Two of us— yes, one of them was me — began crying hysterically, certain that our lifeless bodies would be found in a Tijuana ditch.

Apparently our sobs did the trick because our “captors” suddenly couldn’t get us back to our car fast enough.

Though we can look back and laugh at such reckless escapades now, high school wasn’t a happy experience for any of us. A sense of not fitting in drew our quirky little circle of friends together. Each of us was lost or struggling in her own way, a fact our parents seemed oblivious to. So we found our own ways to cope.

My friend, Sydnie, stuffed herself with food to dull her depression. Holly, an over-achieving honor student, battled anorexia in her quest for perfection. Sandy spent more school hours surfing than she did on campus. And I turned to alcohol to ease my low self-esteem and shyness.

At the reunion, we marveled at how clueless our parents had been about what we were up to. We wondered if their lack of awareness was typical of most parents in the more laid-back seventies. Or were they simply too enmeshed in their own problem—crumbling marriages, alcoholism, unemployment, single parenthood — to pay attention to ours?

We are all moms ourselves now. Our kids range from preschoolers to college students. I know none of us want to believe we could ever be so blissfully ignorant of what’s going on in the lives of our children. But I also appreciate how challenging it can be to stay close and connected -- even in the healthiest families.

With the help of each other, my friends and I survived those difficult years. We went on to deal with our individual demons. We came out laughing on the other side of high school.

By Dorothy O’Donnell


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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


In Context

I’ve found that my kids can handle doing something they don’t want to do, or not getting their own way, if I can explain things to them. I still use the occasional,, “Because I told you to” but sometimes that feels a little inconsiderate.

Take yesterday, for instance, I was tempted to tell my kids to get out of the house at 8:15 on Labor Day morning and go out and play in the back yard simply because I told them to. But they were being sweet – if not just a tad too loud and busy for a holiday morning– and I didn’t want to ruin that mood with a grumpy argument.

So, instead, I told them the truth: “Look, you’re being too loud for our neighbors downstairs. It’s great that you’re bouncy and singing, but you can’t do that in our apartment because we live on the third floor and it’s loud right above our neighbors’ heads.”

My son pouted and furrowed his brow and said with his arms crossed, “I can’t wait ‘til we live on a first floor, so we can be loud.”

I thought about it a moment and realized I hadn’t actually told him the whole helpful truth yet. “Look, bud, I agree with you there, but before you start feeling too sorry for yourself, you need to understand you’re actually being too loud and too busy for your own home this morning. This happens to kids all across the planet, no matter where they live, so don’t feel too bad. Their parents open up the door and say ‘Get out of here – you’re just too loud and busy in here this morning. You need to be outdoors.’ My mom used to do it to me. Dad’s parents used to do it for him. Parents have been doing this to their kids for millions of years. Now go for it.”

He relaxed his shoulders a little, said “C’mon” with a nod to his sister, and grudgingly shuffled off to put on his flip-flops and head out the door. As he walked away, I realized with a jolt I was glad he finally found the truth helpful because if I got any more honest with him I would’ve had to tell him to get out of the house so his dad would quit pestering me for a quickie.

Which has been going on for millions of years, too, right?

By Anjie Reynolds


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Monday, September 03, 2007



I am a mother who writes.

I steal precious slices of time away from the demands of my life to practice my craft.

Last week, I had planned for a rare two-hour writing session by plopping my six-year-old in front of the otherwise forbidden TV.Just as my fingers had touched the keyboard, my 11-year-old son tore breathlessly into the room. It was his turn to bring a snack to his sixth-grade class. He had told me two weeks earlier, but I had forgotten.

I considered ignoring the matter altogether, but then I remembered the promise. I made it the last time it was our family’s turn to bring snack. I had used it as an opportunity to create a “healthy” dish. I made cookies out of whole wheat flour and rice bran. The result was a platter of brown blobs that tasted like baseballs.

My son returned home that evening humiliated. He begged me to make “normal” cookies next time it was our turn. And I promised I would. Now it was time to make good on the promise. And it was also time to write. So I did both, moving from the computer to the kitchen counter.

Later, as the cookies cooled and my attention had moved fully to the essay I was writing, my six-year-old plopped into the chair next to my desk. He sighed, signaling he had something on his mind. “What?” I yelled, angry at yet another interruption. “Mom?” he said, with a quiver in his chin. “What does ‘dead’ mean?”My fingers froze above the keyboard. I turned toward my son and saw in his face a child’s curiosity – and a little worry. I smiled to myself, clicked off the computer and surrendered.

Sometimes, you have to stop writing about life and just live it.

By Laura-Lynne Powell


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Sunday, September 02, 2007



There is a belief in the world of psychoanalysis that a pregnant woman cannot be psychoanalyzed.

The fact of being physically merged with a baby, some have said, empties the maternal mind of its ability to examine and effect change in its contents.

I used to get feministically ragey on that prejudice.

But today I am wondering about how much access do I have to writing, to creating characters, remembering details, and painting a visual picture.

How much can a mother do that while her kid is napping?

Wait, is that her? Do I not get to finish even this?

How much of our mama brain is ours and internally free to wander while we try to sing our song and voice our particular story?

How much of me is taken up in crouching, waiting for the interruption or the remembered phone call I HAVE to make while she's out?

We need so much to have a place where we are subjective, messy, passionate creatures, beholden to no one, freely longing and growing.

Today's answer: Well, at least I can try to write a blog. . .

Oy, she's up!

By Avvy Mar


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Saturday, September 01, 2007


Waiting List

Today I got the call I have been waiting for; waiting with both excitement and dread. It was the school admissions director. As she introduced herself, I was once again a teenager, speaking to the admissions director at Smith College as she congratulated me on my acceptance.

However, this was preschool, not college, and my son had not gotten in. Despite the fact that I had dutifully listed him on the waiting list a few months after his birth along with all of the other Marin mothers, it appeared that some moms had gotten on the list while still pregnant. As ridiculous as it seems, I could not help but feel that I had failed somehow.

When I first told my own mother that I was looking at preschools, she sensibly asked, “Why don’t you just send him to the one near your house, like I did with you?” Oh, if only it were that easy.

It is hard now to think about how much time and energy I spent picking out just the right place for my son, as though I really were choosing a four-year “home away from home” instead of a place he would spend just a few days per week.

Would he be happy and safe? Would he enjoy the reading nook and the art corner? I finally discovered the perfect place, just two blocks from my house. My neighborhood preschool.

The rejection felt like a wound.

I chose this small city to raise my family because it reminded me of the friendly little town in upstate New York where I grew up. However, sometimes it seems to be just a picturesque facade of that little town and its simple way of life.

Here, I must rush to the phone with positive pregnancy test in hand and pay a $50 application fee (same as college) and beg preschools to let my sweet-tempered little boy play in their mock kitchens and join their circle time. Leaving your child for the first time is hard enough without suffering such indignities.

However, I am certain that my son will have many advantages and opportunities here as well. . . if he can ever get off the waiting lists.

By Rebecca Jackson


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